It’s official — Ohioans will vote May 8 to change how the state draws congressional districts to a process supporters say will be more fair, transparent and bipartisan. The General Assembly’s proposed constitutional amendment will be Issue 1, the only statewide issue on the May primary election ballot. The Ohio Ballot Board, a bipartisan panel led by the secretary of state, met Tuesday and approved a ballot summary and arguments for and against Issue 1.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio lawmakers are debating how much money to give counties to replace aging voting machines, but those funds aren’t expected to be part of the state capital budget. County officials initially had hoped to see money for voting machines included in the two-year capital budget that provides funding for more than $2 billion for infrastructure projects across the state, including university facilities, schools, roads and bridges, and smaller, community projects. The capital budget is expected to pass by April 1, and the goal for GOP leaders in the House and Senate is to introduce a bill within the next two weeks that already has the agreement of both chambers, allowing for a quick, smooth process.
Ohio: Senate passes bipartisan congressional redistricting plan, sending it to the House | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Ohio Senate on Monday passed a bipartisan proposal to change how Ohio draws its congressional districts, advancing the proposed constitutional amendment one step closer to appearing on the May ballot. Advocates for redistricting reform say the proposed changes will curb the legislature’s ability to gerrymander districts to favor a political party or incumbent. The Senate approved a revised Senate Joint Resolution 5 in a 31-0 vote. The House will vote on the resolution Tuesday, one day before the deadline to place a measure on the May ballot. “Hopefully this is an issue that will serve Ohioans for many decades to come,” Sen. Matt Huffman, the Lima Republican leading the effort, said.
On Monday night, the Ohio state Senate did something truly unprecedented: With near-unanimous support from both Republicans and Democrats, the chamber approved Senate Resolution 5, a measure that would for the first time require bipartisan input and approval for federal congressional maps. The measure is expected to pass the state House today, and it will appear on the ballot in the May primary elections to get final approval from voters. As it stands, there are few state guidelines on federal redistricting in Ohio. As in most states, the power to create maps rests with the state legislature, which usually means that the party in power—right now, it’s the GOP—ends up calling the shots. There are also few requirements for community disclosure or involvement. The only real constraints that exist are those under federal court rulings and the Voting Rights Act, which prohibit racial gerrymandering and ensure districts have roughly the same populations. So far, the result of those limited rules has been a congressional map that, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, has consistently led to Republican partisan bias.
Ohio: Lawmakers, coalition reach deal on new Ohio congressional redistricting plan | The Columbus Dispatch
Republicans, Democrats and a coalition of redistricting-reform advocates reached a deal to put a proposal on the May ballot aimed at curtailing partisan gerrymandering of Ohio’s congressional map. After weekend negotiations that capped off about two weeks of heavy talks, the Senate on Monday night voted 31-0 for the compromise plan. The House is likely to approve it Tuesday, one day ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline to qualify the issue for the May statewide ballot.
Ohio: Redistricting ballot group, Democrats reject changes proposed by Republicans | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Republicans working on congressional redistricting reform announced several changes to their plan Monday night aimed at appeasing Democrats and advocates pushing their own reform measure. But both groups said the revised plan still does not eliminate partisan gerrymandering and allows politicians to slice and dice communities to their parties’ advantage. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition plans to move forward getting its proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. “This is simply why no one trusts politicians,” Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the Fair Districts leaders said in a statement. “We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren’t gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren’t beholden to voters.”
Voting equipment in many Ohio counties, including Butler County, is becoming obsolete as replacement parts are more difficult to obtain and software continues to age. State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, said he knows of at least one county board of elections that has used parts from an auto supply store. He said replacing voting machines before the 2020 presidential election is vital to ensure votes are recorded and counted correctly. “It’s just time to replace them,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that has to be done right.” LaRose, who is running for Ohio Secretary of State, said there is “widespread agreement that we need to replace voting machines” among those within the legislature. He introduced Senate Bill 135 last April, which has had one hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.
Ohio: Jon Husted says Ohio’s gerrymandering problem could be fixed with 2 simple rules | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Thursday that legislators could fix Ohio’s partisan redistricting process with a few sentences. Husted said the two competing efforts to change how Ohio draws congressional districts are too complicated. A reform plan, he said, only needs two rules: Require a bipartisan vote and don’t divide counties until the entire population of the county has been used up to draw a district. “That’s all you have to do. Bipartisan vote, don’t divide counties — boom!” Husted said, speaking to reporters outside a conference of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday delayed a vote on changes to the inherently political process by which Ohio redraws congressional districts. Talks are under way with those pushing a competing reform plan in hopes of reaching a compromise that could mean voters would be presented with one less ballot question on the subject this year. “If I wasn’t optimistic of the chances of that happening, I wouldn’t have started down this path to begin with,” Senate President Larry Obhof (R., Medina) said. But he said it is unlikely Senate Republicans would agree with a plan in which the General Assembly would entirely relinquish control of the process to an outside entity.
Supporters of a redistricting plan that might be on the November ballot are critical of a Republican bill being considered by Ohio lawmakers that would let them retain control over the process of drawing Congressional district lines. The Ohio NAACP, Common Cause Ohio and the League of Women Voters of Ohio have been gathering signatures to put a proposed redistricting plan before voters this fall. The League of Women Voter’s Ann Henkener says the lawmakers’ alternative plan would not stop the gerrymandering that’s part of the current process. “The whole idea of it passing is not something my brain can comprehend,” Henkener says.